Five Greatest Hoaxes of All Time

Midtown Manhattan as seen from the GE Building
Midtown Manhattan as seen from the GE Building
fairy tale/
fairy tale/

Larger than Fiction

It will start as practical jokes, then to moneymaking schemes until it will be recognized internationally or worldwide deceptions.

Hoaxes have always been part of human history. Some have become successful that these hoaxes were included in the history books.

1) Reattaching Manhattan. Really? Yes, it may be a practical joke but it happened. Many were fooled by a man only named Lozier, a retired carpenter in 1824. Lozier said that it will be a catastrophic event if the city of Manhattan in New York will sink because of overbuilding at the other side. He said that the island should be sawed in two, the vacant part to be dragged into New York harbor and turned around and reattached. In time of greatest advancement in science and technology, only few doubted such plan. Numerous laborers were commissioned. Some underwent physical tests as to how much time they can hold their breath under water. A blacksmith were even engaged to create the ironwork needed for the job. Then after months of preparation, the big day arrived. A huge group of laborer came, along with wagons filled with provisions and supplies for the work. Time passed but Lozier never appeared. They were all gritting their teeth for their foolishness to get even.

2) Dead Man’s Float. In 1943, the Allied Forces headed by the British army devised a scheme to fool Adolf Hitler, the dictator of Germany. Float a dead man carrying set of letters and plans concerning their supposed to be invasion of Sardinia and Greek Peloponnesus instead of Sicily. The perfect corpse who died of pneumonia was falsely named Major William Martin. The British conspirators stuffed the corpse’s pockets with ticket stubs, an ‘overdrawn notice’ from his bank, love letters from his fiancée, and cranky letter from his father about fuel rationing. And lastly, the secret invasion plan. After choosing the right spot in terms of wind direction and tides, Major Martin was launched. Their plan became successfully evident when the German forces concentrated elsewhere.

3) Fairy Tale. If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has been half as rational as his fictitious character Sherlock Holmes, he will not have fallen to the ploy or deception perpetrated by two young girls. The author wrote devotedly about the “fairies” seen and photographed with these two girls from the English village of Cottingley. The fairies became a national sensation or fascination, perhaps. The pictures, taken in 1917 by 16-year-old Elsie Wright and her ten-year old cousin Frances Griffiths, showed the girls by a wooded stream, with winged spirits and gnomes, who danced and pranced and tootled on pipes. Several photography experts examined and declared that pictures were unretouched or free of reimposition. Later in the early 1980s, the girls, who were already old women, admitted that they had posed with paper cutouts supported by hatpins. It was also made into a movie in the early 90s.

4) Rhinoceros Lake. Hugh Troy, a well-known artist, was a smart aleck who spent the most of his life perpetuating frauds for the joy of it. One of his most popular frauds happened in the winter of 1920s, while a student in Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. Armed with a wastebasket with a real rhinoceros foot as its base, he filled it with weights then tied it with 30 feet of clothesline to either side. Later one night, he and a friend carried it out onto campus, suspended between them. Every few feet, they would lower it into the snow until it reached the shore of the icy Beebe Lake. Next morning, someone noticed it, followed it along with some professors and students until they stopped at the lake with a gigantic hole connected to the drinking water source of the school. It is said that half the population of Cornell stopped drinking water and swore that it tasted like rhinoceros.

5) Naked Lie. It was included in our social studies books in the 70s and 80s. It was one of the ploys of the Marcos regime. The head of the Philippine agency for national minorities, Manuel Elizalde Jr. announced to the world in 1971 (the year that I was born) that a tribe of Stone Age people, never exposed to modern civilization, had been discovered in the jungle. Wearing loincloths made of orchid leaves, the Tasadays, as they were called, lived in caves, eating only wild fruits and vegetables and small aquatic life. They did not farm and didn’t have any slightest idea of time. They used no weapons and had no word for war. Media men and scientists were very excited about this anthropologist’s dream. Even the National Geographic offered Elizalde $50,000 dollars to produce a documentary on the cave men. In the meantime, Philippine President Ferdinand Marcos of that time, made the Tasaday’s region in Mindanao a government preserve. It wasn’t until 1986, when the Marcos regime was ousted that a Swiss journalist revisited the mysterious people. He was stunned to see the cave dwellers wearing T-shirts and shorts, and living in huts. They said that they were instructed to act like cave men by Elizalde. Today, I am one of the Filipinos still digging the true history of my nation. Books during the regime of Marcos have incorporated more hoaxes than truths.

Today’s hoaxes are equally deceptive but instantly discovered. The recent news was involving the family about the “balloon snatch” or the alien abduction.. There were also hoaxes in the Internet ploriferating , like e-mail hoaxes among others.

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Comments 2 comments

bacville profile image

bacville 6 years ago from Manila, Philippines

Our Social Studies books don't have an account of Tasadays, anymore. There are many hoaxes on the history of the Philippines engineered by greedy political families (Marcos, especially).

travel_man1971 profile image

travel_man1971 6 years ago from Bicol, Philippines Author

The issue died as the Marcos regime faded but the Tasaday hoax had been recorded in history. I've also been a victim of believing what was written in the book. Be careful with what you read, bacville.

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